Sain's writing an epic poem. (Sain and Kent)
"Kent, what rhymes with 'flower'?"
"Bower," said Kent absently, scrubbing industriously at some unidentifiable clump that was clinging stubbornly to his tack. At least Mark had prudently suggested all on horseback stay away from that desert battle; long after they'd left Nabata, Lord Hector had been swearing a blue streak about the sand getting in everywhere. But there had been the battle at the beach and wet sand flying up everywhere-- wait. "Sain, why are you asking?"
"I'm writing epic love poetry," said Sain cheerfully, making scritch-scritch sounds with his quill. "Secretly."
Kent dropped his rag.
"Secretly?" he said incredulously, then reconsidered the question. "To whom?"
"That," said Sain happily, obligingly handing him the rag, "is the secret."
Kent considered strangling him with the reins.
It couldn't be Florina, because Florina eeped and ran away every time Sain spoke to her. Well, she'd been improving, having spent so much time in Caelyn with Lady Lyn hovering protectively over her.
But today, Sain had come up to Florina and spoken to her, and she had stood still for five whole minutes before she eeped and ran away.
But Florina did like flowers. Even if she thought they were supposed to be for feeding the pegasi with. And Sain was very charming, and hadn't their instructor once said, sourly, that Sain could charm the very swallows down from the air?
Besides, as long as it wasn't Lady Lyn-- no, not going there.
He practiced extra-long with the lance that day.
"What about 'arrow'? Can you think of anything?"
Kent's head slammed into the top of the trunk with a very loud thud. He said some rather rude things to the trunk, and some very loud and angry things to Sain.
"Are you still on that poetry thing?" he demanded, sitting back. His fingers explored the back of his head gingerly.
"Yes, now sit down, I've got a wet cloth here." The cloth was duly applied, and the painful throb dulled.
"Haven't you given it to-- the girl yet?" Kent inquired. He tried to exude casualness, and only managed to resemble a stiff board.
"Oh no. It's an epic love poem," Sain said to the back of his head, lightly keeping the compress in place. "I'm only halfway through the second verse. It wouldn't be an epic poem with only two verses."
"Only two verses?"
"Well, it's been slow going, and we'd been battling with barely a break in between."
"True," said Kent, and closed his eyes. Merlinus could wait for his damned trunks until the ache went away.
Maybe it was Rebecca. Sain had quite distinctly said 'arrow', hadn't he? He couldn't remember if she liked flowers, but she did like rabbits. Like the time she'd whipped up her bow and shot a rabbit by a clump of dandelions, just two heartbeats before Lord Hector's axe had decapitated rabbit, arrow and dandelions, earning an exasperated "Lord Hector!" from Rebecca (who blushed right after) and a laugh from Lady Lyndis.
He really wished he could make Lady Lyn laugh too.
"For not even the sun outshines you; nor the moon outpace your fleeting glance..."
"GO TO SLEEP BEFORE I MURDER YOU."
"Good night Kent."
"Lady Lyn!" He very nearly dropped the sword he'd been inspecting, then tried to bow without stabbing either her or himself.
"At ease, Kent." Her smile was so very bright and warm. "What on earth is Sain doing?"
He stared blankly at her while mentally running down his list of manly secrets that Sain would not want explained to Lady Lyndis.
"I mean, he was asking me what rhymed with 'warrior'." Her brow creased. "I couldn't think of a thing. Was it very important?"
"Ah, oh, no. Not at all."
"Then why was he asking?"
"He's...writing poetry." He bit his tongue.
"Poetry?" said Lady Lyn even more doubtfully. "Is that some kind of Lycian custom? I mean, my tribe-- well, we used to sing songs about past battles..."
"Nothing so...ambitious," Kent assured her. "He merely wishes to, er, extol the exploits of a person he greatly admires."
She brightened. "That's very nice of him. I wonder...if he would like that..."
When Lady Lyn went off, Kent dunked his head in a bucket. It needed...cooling off. Damn Sain and his damn poetry.
"It's M-A-D-R-I-G-A-L," said Lady Priscilla out of the blue, as she was wrapping up the ends of the bandage.
"I beg your pardon?" said Kent. He hastily held up his free hand. "I mean, I don't think I asked you anything about madrigals lately, Lady Priscilla."
"Oh!" said Lady Priscilla and blushed. "I meant, oh, Sir Sain was asking me something the other day, and for some reason it just popped up. I'm terribly sorry to do that to you, Sir Kent."
"Not at all," he reassured her. "...By the way, was he asking you what rhymed with nightingale?"
She laughed, and he felt his own lips curve up in a smile.
It was really, really, most unworthy of a knight's honour. But still...
"I...really...must...I really have to leave now, Lady Serra. I believe, erm, Lady Lyn is looking for me. Yes, right now, I apologize. Good day, Lady Serra."
He was fairly certain hunting down and killing Sain, or at least, yelling at him until he felt better would keep him far away from the Lady Serra until the next battle.
"There's no need for formalities, Sir Kent. We are all knights serving our respective lieges. Let us speak as equals."
"You honour me too highly. Is there anything I might aid you with, Dame Isadora?"
"I beg pardon?"
"Ah, I mean, I believe Sain was asking if anyone had any parchment to spare; I thought I would offer. Might I entrust you with this?"
"Certainly," said Kent. Perhaps the effects from the last battle hadn't gone away-- he was certain he'd misheard Dame Isadora. Had she really said that Sain was a peabrain and he could certainly do with some shelling? He must have frowned, for Dame Isadora looked uncomfortable.
"You're a good friend to Sir Sain," said Dame Isadora unexpectedly, and he felt himself smile back with real warmth.
"I've run out of ink," said Sain disgustedly, tossing clothes willy-nilly. "Have you any to spare, Kent?"
"Perhaps you could ask Fiora," said Kent, removing a shirt from his shoulder. He automatically started to fold it into a neat square.
Sain stopped, turned and blinked soulfully at him. "But she keeps flying away every time I get close. You'd think she doesn't liiike me anymore. Besides, only a true friend would give me his last bottle of ink."
"Your true friend only carries a spare bottle of ink because you keep running out of it, writing all those bloody love letters," Kent retorted. "Are you still carrying on with that poem?"
"Epic poem," Sain corrected. "Yes, I am. I have sworn. Until he looks at me or stops mooning over some other young la-- erm. Oh dear."
"It was a slip of the tongue! I swear! I meant, of course, her. Yes, her!"
"You said 'he'," said Kent, folding his arms. "I'm not going to have every last man in the party coming after me to talk about YOU, am I?" He sincerely hoped not. He didn't even want to imagine WHO. At least all the ladies had been young and pretty...surely not...oh god no...surely he was too old!
"They'd better not!" Sain said fiercely, "because you're mine!"
Sain looked down, toed the floor, like, oh, when he'd been six and had dragged Kent into making mud pies in the lordship's best flowerbed...
He felt his lips twitch.
"Just so you know," said Kent grimly. "I'm burning that epic poem of yours."
Sain looked up quickly, saw his face, then grinned at him. "We can do it together."